Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Not-So-Biker Chick

Okay, the final installment in our anniversary trip... I realize this has been a long, drawn out process... What can I say, I’m a busy lady. Thanks for sticking with me.

Tuesday, July 26th was our actual anniversary... we headed out to the Virginia Creeper Trail to ride bikes. The trail is a former railroad track, with 40 some bridges cutting through it. I’m not sure how long it is- we rode 17 miles of it, most of it downhill, thank God- but we heard from locals that it’s twice as long as that.

Here’s the thing. I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was maybe 13. I know they say once you know how, you never forget... that’s true in the sense that I didn’t have a problem actually peddling, balancing, etc. But I must remind you that just the day before, I’d spent two hours on a horse- Jack Skellington butt, remember? It didn’t help that the bike with the cushy seat was broken, so I got just a regular old skinny seat (I would have much preferred one as pictured above- basket and all). Also, seeing as I hadn’t ridden a bike in probably 15 years (man is THAT depressing... I’m 15 years older than 13...), I was nervous. Lack of confidence doesn’t bode well in a 17 mile bike ride. The trail is actually 2 miles away from the place we rented the bikes from, meaning we had to ride 2 miles on the open road in the mountains. Oh yeah- and my last bike was a banana seat beach cruiser type bike... I had no idea what to do with a 10 speed with hand brakes. Jeremy had to remind me almost immediately not to brake with my feet. Whoops. Word from the wise: don’t use your favorite elephant print TOMS to brake.

Our starting off was shaky... I wasn’t prepared for the downhill grade, wasn’t prepared to see houses and trucks flying by me with no control over my speed (this was before I remembered the hand brake thingies, although I’m sure they have a technical term), and I definitely wasn’t prepared for the little Jack Russell Terrier that ran alongside me and made me run into the side of the mountain. He wasn’t vicious... I’m sure living on that road, he sees plenty of bikers heading for the trail, and most likely he just meant to keep me company. Regardless, I braked with my shoes again because of him... and fell over against an embankment type thing. Not my finest hour. Jeremy, of course, had to show off his mad BMX skills and “sweet jumps” on every little twist, turn, and bump in the road. He used to “ride bikes” in the extreme sense, back in his heyday.

We finally made it onto the trail... the whole 17 miles down I felt like Maria in The Sound of Music, the Do Re Mi song where they’re riding the bikes under the trees. That’s what it looked like, minus the lederhosen.  And the singing... that only existed inside my head.

The trail is beautiful. Cool, quiet, bathed in sunlight filtered green and blue through the trees. Just the sound of tires running through black gravel. Occasional waterfalls, swimming holes, bridges, and old railway ties piled on the side of the road. We stopped at Green Cove, the original station turned museum. The man in the museum told us the station had been in the same family for 100 years, and had been donated to the state in the late 70’s:

This cracks me up: "Children call it the 'Fun Laxative!'"

Side note: On the shuttle back up the mountain, we happened to meet the family that owned the station- they live in a huge house right next to it, that I didn’t remember seeing at all.

The ride was uneventful, mostly. Well, maybe not uneventful; peaceful, anyway. We stopped at a few streams, at one of which my necklace popped right off my neck and wedged between some rocks (I caught it!), and another one at which Jeremy took amusement in encouraging some kids to jump off the rocks into the water, even though their mother was telling them to be careful. Ever the antagonist. A few miles from the end of the trail, we passed a construction sign warning us that there were men at work. I told Jeremy we needed to take a picture of it to prove that we were, after all, still in Virginia, the only place where they would have construction crews working in the middle of a retired train track on the top of a mountain. Jeremy scoffed at my idea... until we rounded the corner and saw this:

Proof that we never left Virginia

We spent about 15 minutes at this detour, chatting with a local man who rode the trail 3 times a week, up AND down. Jeremy was fired with the notion to ride out the rest of the trail to Abingdon, or at the least I could pick him up there in 2 or 3 hours if I didn’t want to go with him. I got him away from the crazy local man really quickly after that.

By the time we got to the bottom of the trail, my tailbone was hurting so bad from my non-banana seat bike that it was knocking the wind out of me every time I shifted. I don’t know how people ride bikes everyday (especially this guy, who I've been following on Facebook for a few months. Lord bless him!). I was never so happy to see a highway in my life. Not that I didn’t love the trail, or the time spent with my showing off husband. But when Jeremy said something along the lines of: “Oh man, I could do that again tomorrow!”, my response was not only no, but- you guessed it- H-E-double hockey sticks no. I don’t think my hindquarters will ever be the same.

But maybe, next year, if I could get my banana seat beach cruiser, I might risk it again, Jack Russell Terriers notwithstanding.

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